Théâtre Feydeau

The Théâtre Feydeau, pronounced: , a former Parisian theatre company, was founded in 1789 with the patronage of Monsieur, Comte de Provence (later to become Louis XVIII), and was therefore initially named the Théâtre de Monsieur. It began performing in the Salle des Tuilleries, located in the north wing of the Tuileries Palace, then moved to the Salle des Variétés at the Foire Saint-Germain, and finally, beginning in 1791, settled into its own custom-built theatre, the Salle Feydeau located on the Rue Feydeau. The company was renamed Feydeau after the royal family was arrested during the French Revolution. It first presented Italian opera by composers such as Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, Giuseppe Sarti, and Giovanni Paisiello and later French plays, vaudevilles, and opéras comiques, as well as symphonic concerts, and was especially famous for the quality of its orchestra and realistic stagings. The Italian Luigi Cherubini was the house composer, but the French composers Jean-François Le Sueur, François Devienne, and Pierre Gaveaux were also closely associated with the company. In 1801 it merged with, and took the name of its chief rival, the Opéra-Comique. Except for a brief period from July 1804 to July 1805 when the merged company performed at the Salle Favart, it continued to perform at the Salle Feydeau until 1829, when it moved to a new theatre, the Salle Ventadour. The Salle Feydeau was demolished shortly thereafter.

History

The company was founded on 26 January 1789 by Léonard-Alexis Autier and the violinist and composer Giovanni Battista Viotti and at first used the Salle des Tuileries, which had previously been the Salle des Machines, but had been greatly modified and reduced in size by the architects Jacques-Germain Soufflot and Ange-Jacques Gabriel for the Paris Opera in 1763.

On 6 October 1789 Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette moved to the Tuileries Palace after being forced to leave Versailles for Paris by rioters. The presence of the royal family at the palace meant that the Théâtre de Monsieur would have to move elsewhere. It was decided that a new theatre would be built on the Rue Feydeau, not far from the Opéra-Comique's Salle Favart, but in the interim, the company would perform in the Salle des Variétés at the Saint-Germain Fair. The company's last performance at the Tuileries was on 23 December, and it opened at the Salle des Variétés on 10 January 1790 and performed there until 31 December 1790. The new theatre on the Rue Feydeau was in a neoclassical style designed by the architects Jacques Legrand and Jacques Molinos and had a capacity of 1700–1900. The opening there took place on 6 January 1791, when Giuseppe Sarti's 3-act comic opera Le nozze di Dorina was presented.

Upon the Royal Family's return to Paris on 24 June 1791, after its unsuccessful flight and arrest in Varennes, the Théâtre de Monsieur was officially renamed Théâtre français et italien de la rue Feydeau, then Théâtre français et Opéra-buffa and finally, on 27 January 1795, Théâtre français de la rue Feydeau.

Up to 1791 the repertory had consisted primarily of Italian opera, with additional music added by Cherubini, but now the company turned increasingly to French opéras comiques, competing more directly with the nearby Opéra-Comique company at the Salle Favart. The first important French work was Cherubini's Lodoïska, which was premiered on 18 July 1791. This was followed by more French operas by Cherubini, as well as operas by French composers, including Devienne's Les visitandines (7 July 1792);Le Sueur's La caverne (16 February 1793), Paul et Virginie (13 January 1794), and Télémaque (10 May 1796); and Gaveaux's Léonore, ou L'amour conjugal (19 February 1798). The last was the model for Beethoven's Fidelio. In general, opera alternated evenings with spoken drama, presented by a separate company of actors.

The theatre became one of the meeting-places for counter-revolutionaries. Like many theatres of the Revolutionary period, it was frequently banned. However, it re-opened for good on 2 April 1796, becoming one of the most appreciated theatres in Paris. Talma produced there from 1798.

Sagaret directed the company from 1795 to 1799, but he also took on the management of two other theatres, the Théâtre de la République and the Théâtre de l'Odéon, and becoming overextended closed the Théâtre Feydeau on 12 April 1801. However, the Opéra-Comique, the Feydeau's chief rival, was also forced to close on 20 July 1801, and it was soon decided to merge the two companies under the name Opéra-Comique, which occurred on 16 September 1801. Since the previous Opéra-Comique's Salle Favart needed repairs, the merged company performed at the Salle Feydeau. Except for a short period from 23 July 1804 to 4 July 1805, when it performed at the Salle Favart and the Salle Olympique, it continued using the Salle Feydeau until 12 April 1829, after which the Salle Feydeau was demolished, and the new Opéra-Comique moved to a newly built theatre, the Salle Ventadour, opening there on 20 April 1829.

In La fille de Madame Angot, an opéra-comique by Charles Lecocq put on on 4 December 1872, the heroine Clairette Angot sings "Didn't you know Mademoiselle Lange, the great actress of the Feydeau?", thus mentioning the Théâtre Feydeau more than forty years after its demolition.

Productions
  • A revival of The Barber of Seville by Beaumarchais (March 1791).
Premieres
  • 1791: Lodoïska by Cherubini (18 July 1791)
  • 1793: La caverne by Jean-François Le Sueur (16 February 1793)
  • 1794: Eliza ou Le voyage aux glaciers du Mont Saint-Bernard by Cherubini (13 December 1794)
  • 1797: Médée by Cherubini (13 March 1797)
  • 1798: L'hôtellerie portugaise by Cherubini (25 July 1798)
  • 1799: La punition by Cherubini (23 February 1799)
  • 1800: Les deux journées, ou Le porteur d'eau by Cherubini (16 January 1800)
Media